Planet Fitness stock tumbles as boycott calls grow

Planet Fitness stock tumbles as boycott calls grow

People calling for a boycott of Planet Fitness over its handling of transgender issues are claiming success after the gym chain’s stock market value took a huge hit over the past week, and Elon Musk has weighed in.

On March 17, the right-wing social media account Libs of TikTok posted on X, formerly Twitter, about a 2023 incident involving a man who allegedly exposed himself to a 15-year-old in a women’s locker room at Planet Fitness in Monroe, Georgia.

The gym chain’s value dropped from $5.3 billion on March 14 to $4.9 billion on March 19. Its $400 million fall has also been linked to a refusal to reverse the cancelation of an Alaskan customer’s membership for sharing a photo of a ‘trans woman’ using a female locker room.

The furor reflects a growing divide on the issue of transgender rights in the United States, with bills targeting the rights of transgender people being embraced by Republican governors and statehouses across the country, and companies such as Bud Light facing boycotts from conservatives as well as some women’s rights groups.

On March 19, a screenshot posted by Robby Starbuck—a music-video director and former Republican Congress hopeful in Nashville, Tennessee—reported Planet Fitness stock had fallen by 11.37 percent from the previous week.

On X, formerly Twitter, Starbuck said: “Wow @PlanetFitness, It looks like letting men into the women’s locker room where they can spy on them while they change (including underage girls) is NOT super popular!”

“This pain will continue until you stop letting men into women’s spaces,” Starbuck added. “We won’t stop. #BoycottPlanetFitness.”

Billionaire businessman Elon Musk, who acquired X in 2022, weighed in on the matter this week.

“Yeah, this is messed up,” Musk wrote in response to Starbuck’s post.

Oli London, a British influencer who previously identified as transracial, gender neutral and transgender before aligning himself with conservative causes, also shared a screenshot regarding the financial hit Planet Fitness has taken.

The screenshot showed Planet Fitness’ market cap standing at $5.5 billion on March 12, dipping by more than $500 million to $4.95 billion on March 20.

London opined on March 20 that the loss was as a result of the company “refusing to stop allowing transgender males in women’s locker rooms.”

“The huge loss also comes after they banned the membership of a woman who complained about seeing a man shaving in the women’s locker room,” London added.

Planet Fitness appears to have rebounded somewhat since the stats were shared. Per the New York Stock Exchange, Planet Fitness’ stock value currently stands at $56.91, with a market cap of $5.39 billion as of March 21.

Newsweek has contacted representatives of Planet Fitness via email for comment.

Following the incident in which a “biological male” allegedly exposed himself to the 15-year-old at Planet Fitness in Monroe, Georgia, Jakorbie Dixon, 25, of Conyers was arrested. He faced “multiple warrants for public indecency by exposing himself in the female locker room,” the local police department stated.

The teen’s family then filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness. Representing them, attorney Bart Benton claims the fitness chain was aware of Dixon’s alleged lewd behavior before exposing himself to the teenager.

A Planet Fitness building on March 30, 2023, in Walnut Creek, California. The gym chain has been facing boycott calls in recent days.

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The gym chain had already been facing days of criticism over a separate incident involving a man inside a women’s locker room in the presence of a child.

And last week more criticism came after it stood by its decision to cancel the membership of the Alaskan customer who reported a “man in women’s locker room shaving” while a 12-year-old girl was present.

A spokesperson for Planet Fitness told local media that the customer took an image of a person inside a locker room, which violates the company’s mobile device policy and goes against the gym’s “judgment-free” rules.

Planet Fitness, on its website, says that it champions diversity and provides an environment “where everyone feels accepted, respected and like they belong.”

The website lists the fitness company’s non-discrimination policy regarding gender identity and locker room accommodations, which states in part: “Members and team members will be treated according to their self-reported gender identity.” The policy also addresses locker room usage and says that staff and gym members “may use Planet Fitness locker room facilities and programs based on their self-reported gender identity; these facilities include bathrooms, showers, and all other facilities separated by sex.”

The policy notes that if “a serious concern or significant doubt” about a person’s transgender or nonbinary identity arises, Planet Fitness employees are encouraged to address their concerns with the club member. If that fails to resolve the concerns, staff may request “external evidence of the member’s asserted gender identity.” If a gym member “improperly asserts a gender identity,” they may be asked to leave and their membership may be revoked, according to the fitness chain’s policy.